Revolution Interview with Cindy Sheehan
Revolution, October 29, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The Revolution Interview
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Travis Morales, who has been part of the World Can't Wait encampment in front of the White House, had an opportunity to interview antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan. This summer Sheehan had caught the attention of millions by setting up camp outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas and demanding that Bush say what “noble cause” had sent her son as a soldier to Iraq, wher he was killed. When Travis caught up with Cindy, she had already been arrested twice that week protesting at the White House fence.
Travis Morales: On behalf of Revolution and its readers, I wanted to express appreciation for the important stand you've taken. Could you please talk about why you are here at the White House?
Cindy Sheehan: On the occasion of the 2000th death in Iraq of an American solider, we decided to do vigils every day. We've been doing them from 12 to 8, and we have just been trying to call attention to the fact that our country is waging an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. And every night we've had a die-in, to symbolize the losses that we've suffered in our country. So that's what we're trying to do. Everything I do just tries to build awareness, so the American people will try and force their elected officials to bring the troops home.
TM: And why were you here this particular week?
CS: Because the 2000th soldier was killed on Tuesday.
TM: When you started in Crawford -- you talked about this when I saw you speak a few weeks ago in Oakland -- I think you said you started with very few people with you, and with some lawn chairs and a flashlight. So you were practically by yourself when you started. What kept you going?
CS: I didn't just start this on August 6th. I started it July 4th, 2004. And what keeps me going is the knowledge that there are people in harm's way for the lies and betrayals of our government. People -- Iraqi people and American people -- who are in harm's way for nothing. And so that's what keeps me going every day, is trying to get up and trying to save their lives.
TM: What have you learned over these months since the ranch, the bus tour, and now being at the White House? What lessons would you want to share with people?
CS: For one thing I've learned that I'm a much stronger person than I would have imagined -- that's personally what I've learned. And I've learned that the American people really care about what's going on in our country, and they're willing to put their lives on…I don't want to say their lives on the line, but they're willing to sacrifice to make this world a better place. I mean, people like you, who've dropped everything, and you come across the country to do this. And I have met so many amazing people who have given up so much to make our country a better place. Congressman Rangel said today that history will record us as the true patriots, and I believe that that's true.
TM: What is your view on the need for people to stand up and stop this war in Iraq?
CS: I think that it is imperative that we invest everything we have into this, right now. That we invest our time, our talents, our resources. People say, "Well, you know, you're spending your own money, what about your future?" and stuff like that. And I'm just thinking, if we don't invest everything we have now, what guarantee is there that we're going to have a future? And I would rather spend the rest of my days in poverty knowing that I made the world a better place for my children, and their children that haven't been born yet. I'd rather invest all the time, talent and money right now, than to have it later and leaving my children such a messed-up world. So that's what I believe. I believe it is mandatory for all of us to be doing the same thing.
TM: As you travel across the country, what have you been hearing from people with whom you talk?
CS: Well, you know, I get a lot of support. Very little opposition. People are just sick and tired of what's going on. And when I sat down in Crawford and said "Enough is enough," I believe that galvanized them to do the same thing. So that's just what I'm hearing: We're all just sick and tired of what's going on, but now we're willing to raise our voices to try and stop it.
TM:I remember one of the points you made at the Grand Lake Theater (in Oakland), about when you first started in Crawford. You made a point about how you made that decision on three days' notice, but that you knew a lot in terms of the potential out there.
CS: Like I said, by August 3, 2005, when I made the decision to go to Crawford, I had been working in the peace movement for over a year, and I knew I had a lot of support. I was pretty well known in the progressive peace community. You know, I surprised a lot of people on August 6 when I just showed up in Crawford, but they're the people who just get their news from cable news networks or network news, you know, so Middle America didn't know about me. So I knew when I went down to Crawford I was going to have some support. And by the time I got home the night I sent the email that said I was going to go down to Crawford, I already had hundreds of responses. It had been passed around -- people saying, "What can we do to help?" So I knew it was going to be a very significant event -- but I had no idea it was going to be so significant.
TM: You have endorsed the call for The World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2nd! How do you see that? Why do you think people should be involved, and why should they come out on November 2nd? What difference is it going to make?
CS: Well, it makes a lot of difference. We can't let them continue to make us believe that our voices don't make a difference. And it's not just coming out once on November 2nd, but it's over and over and over again. It's really important for a lot of things -- to show the media that we mean business, to show our government that we mean business, to show the world that not all Americans are robotic idiots. So it's just really important, and it's really important not to sit on your couch and think that “I can't make a difference,” because one person can make a difference.
TM: Right, and I think we've seen that out at the White House, with all the people who come there from all over the world, people from all over the country. Our experience of being out there with the World Can't Wait White House encampment is that there's tremendous agreement among not just people from other countries but a lot of people from this country. But, of course, as you know there's a big gap between agreement and people actually acting. What would you say to people that you meet like that, people who agree but aren't really active at this point?
CS: I believe if you aren't doing something about it, then you're apathetic. I really think that, if people are pro-war, they need to do something about it by enlisting to go fight, to let other people come home that don't want to be there. Or encouraging their children to do the same thing. But I believe that people who are anti-war or for peace, they as much as the pro-war people need to get out. They need to let their voice be heard, and they need to, just like I said, invest everything we have right now in peace, so we make sure our children have a future.